My 5 year old started snoring several months back. Initially, I thought nothing of it; just another thing she got from her dad,right? That was until I noticed that she was getting extra cranky and not getting that good REM sleep you may remember in your BC (before children) days. I decided to record her one night and she stopped breathing for anywhere from 10-15 seconds and that’s when I knew this “old man snoring” warranted a pediatric visit. She had “kissing tonsils” where both tonsils were swollen enough to extend past that dangly thing in the back of her throat (also known as the uvula), and touch (or kiss) each other. Kisses are great. Just not when they are blocking your child’s airways by about 70% and preventing them from sleeping soundly.
I did what any mother of a studious kindergartener would do and scheduled the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy over Christmas break. The anticipation for surgery was enough to cause much anxiety, but the surgeon and nurses were so great with her and we were escorted into the recovery room within about 45 minutes after the surgery started. Whew! She slept pretty soundly that first night and only woke about every 4 hours. I thought “Ok, I can handle this!” Then Day 2-10 occurred and I realized that the amount of pain she was in was serious and recovery may prove challenging.
If anyone’s child requires this common surgery, here’s a few tips so you’re not blind-sighted:
• Get a good night’s rest the day before surgery. This will be the last night you may sleep a full 4-8 hours at once for the next 2 weeks. You may have to revert back to an infant feeding schedule of waking every 2-3 hours.
• Stock up on whatever your child usually begs for at the supermarket – Ice cream, popsicles, macaroni & cheese, Krispy Kreme donuts, Entenmanns everything – basically anything soft and easy to swallow. It’s not unusual for a child to lose weight after the surgery because they don’t want to deal with the pain of swallowing.
• Your child may be acting out of the ordinary the day of and/or the day after surgery. Try to be patient and remember they were under anesthesia and the side effects of that might take some time to leave their little bodies. This includes dizziness and drowsiness so escort them everywhere, even if they’re old enough to usually go to the bathrooms by themselves.
• If you don’t have Netflix, ask friends to lend you cartoon movies. The best distractions were animated films she’s never seen before.
• Listen to the nurses when they tell you how to manage the pain. I didn’t want to pump my daughter full of OTC pain relievers but it was necessary. Think of having a headache, earache, sinus issues and raw skin at the back of your throat all at once.
• Some children react to pain in ways that may not be expected. In my case, she was very angry and would say very hurtful things but it was only a matter of time before realizing the pattern of these occurrences were happening when the pain relievers were wearing off.
• Don’t do too much too soon. We made this mistake and she experienced nosebleeds. We called her surgeon who gave us instructions on how to make it stop (thank you Dr Shah!). The surgeon’s instructions coupled with lots of liquids with the humidifier going prevented it from happening again.
• Cuddles. Lot of them. I think it is scientifically proven somewhere that the healing practice of cuddles is equivalent to magical fairy dust. This may just be purely anecdotal but I stand by it.
It has been almost 4 weeks post-surgery and we are happy to report the snoring level is non-existent, she is sleeping a lot better, and has resumed all normal activities of running, jumping, skipping, cartwheeling and the inevitable falling. The joys of childhood and the worries of motherhood continue.